Reflections on COP26

by Josefina Villegas, CPDE Policy and Membership Coordinator

In 2019, CPDE incorporated the climate finance agenda as part of its main advocacy arenas, recognizing the increasing relevance of climate mitigation and adaptation processes in development discourse as well as the impacts of climate change affecting communities and member constituencies.

That year COP25 was under the presidency of Chile, but due to social movements and civil uprising coinciding with the expected dates for the conference, the Spanish government took the role of hosts for the 25th edition of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention or UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), which took place in Madrid instead. That year, CPDE held a study conference on the sidelines of the official event, with the objective of developing an initial scoping and policy positioning on climate finance and EDC interlinkages.

COP26 was to be held in 2020 and had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That year represented a crucial point in negotiations to meet the objectives set by the Paris Agreement (PA) on climate mitigation. Countries were expected to submit their National Determined Contributions (NDCs), meaning the road map to the commitments on GHG reduction. Relevant agreements had to be made regarding the rule book for the implementation of certain articles of the Paris Agreement, related to carbon markets and the way targets were to be met and – most specifically – measured and counted upon.

With the UK as President (in partnership with Italy), COP26 finally took place in Glasgow, Scotland from 31 October-13 November 2021. Despite efforts made to communicate the conference being an “inclusive” event, uneven access to vaccination made in person engagement limited and restrictive for parties and other stakeholders, particularly affecting indigenous people’s representation.

CPDE engaged both at the official event as well as during the civil society led People’s Summit for Climate Justice through a delegation composed by Co-Chair Beverly Longid and Global Secretariat team members Josefina Villegas and Glenis Balangue. The objectives of getting firsthand information on current climate finance discussions as well as an updated stakeholder map; becoming familiar with other CSOs efforts and establishing contacts with organisations working on proposals for a just transition were met. We noticed a significant lack of an effective development approach to the discussions, from both official parties and private sector proposals. Even for the CSO panels on climate finance the EDC principles were not usually contemplated or brought up in a very clear, straight forward way.

Under the call and urge to scale up climate mitigation and adaptation finance through – mainly – leveraging private sector investment, and despite a blurry rhetoric on decarbonizing the economy and phasing out from “inefficient” fossil fuels, COP26 did meet some of the expectations in terms of arriving to agreements on the rule book for the PA and the increased commitment towards adaptation finance. Countries have been reporting and updating on their NDCs more frequently, which should indicate increasing political and economic interest towards this agenda. Despite this, the GHG reduction these pledges represent would not bring the world close to the 1.5º above pre-industrial aim.

In this context, demands for increased ambition on mitigation targets, as well as scaling up efforts towards adaptation finance but also debt cancelation for the Global South by all creditors, grant-based climate finance for the Global South and reparations for loss and damage are all at the center of CSOs claims on climate change. One of our key assessments from COP26 is that there seems to be a significant opportunity to grow political momentum for EDC by bridging it to climate finance and the interlinkages with the SDGs discussions and negotiations. The discussions about a Just Transition, and the development of new and clean technologies are lacking an approach from an EDC perspective. In this same line, there are no clear regulatory frameworks for private sector involvement in climate mitigation and adaptation, despite the very concrete encouragement for public money to keep on contributing to leveraging private sector investments for meeting the Paris Agreement mandate.

A suggestion to the Climate Finance Task Force is to anticipate our engagement for COP27 (to be held in Egypt) as early as the beginning of 2022, in order to discuss and decide on pre-summit activities to prepare the ground as well as to maximize opportunities and resources. That same strategy should contemplate feeding into a plan to raise CPDE involvement on Climate Finance and EDC issues within the GPEDC discussions, in line with the upcoming HLM 2022.#

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